Catch up with how the Australian names have gone in the opening stages of this year’s IPL
Last year’s IPL was a forgettable one for Glenn Maxwell as he tallied just 108 runs in 11 innings for Kings XI – without hitting a single six – and was subsequently let go. That did not stop him fetching a huge price this time around with Royal Challengers Bangalore and the contrast has been stark already. In three innings he has 176 runs, playing a key role in each of three wins to open RCB’s campaign. They made heavy weather of the chase against Mumbai Indians after Maxwell’s 39 off 28 ended, then his 59 off 41 was the standout innings in a low-scorer against Sunrisers Hyderabad. On Sunday he found top gear with 78 off 49 balls against Kolkata Knight Riders although that was somewhat overshadowed by AB de Villiers’ onslaught. Could this actually be RCB’s year?
Can Warner turn Sunrisers around?
It’s a long tournament so teams have time to bounce back, but David Warner has a few problems at the Sunrisers after they started with three defeats in a row. They have been in promising, or strong, positions in all three of their chases before falling short. In second of those losses they somehow failed to chase 150 against RCB despite Warner’s half-century taking them to 96 for 1 in the 14th over. Then against Mumbai, Warner and Jonny Bairstow put on 67 in 7.2 overs for the first wicket chasing 151 only for things to again fall in a heap with Warner run out in the 12th over when he was beaten by Hardik Pandya’s direct hit. “It’s just poor batting,” Warner said. “You just need smart cricket in the middle. At the moment we haven’t been able to produce that.”
Lynn makes an appearance, but just one
Chris Lynn spent the whole 2020 edition sat on the bench for Mumbai but was one of the names somewhat surprisingly retained. This time, with Quinton de Kock serving his pre-tournament quarantine having arrived from South Africa, he was named in the XI for the opening match against RCB and started well with 49 off 35 balls. Although there is a big gap involved, Lynn has passed 40 in eight of his last 11 IPL innings stretching back to 2019. That, for now, has been his lot though. With de Kock available for Mumbai’s second game, Lynn was forced out of the side and back to that familiar position on the bench.
Quicks have mixed fortunes
Last year Pat Cummins picked up just three wickets in his first 10 matches, so he’s already well ahead this time with four scalps in three games for KKR. Against RCB there was a good contest with Australia team-mate Maxwell who took him for 19 runs before Cummins succeeded with the short ball off his final delivery. Elsewhere, Jhye Richardson and Riley Meredith have had some punishment for Punjab Kings: they conceded 104 in their eight overs against Rajasthan Royals, although Richardson’s slower-ball inswinger to get Jos Buttler was an excellent delivery and they won the game. They couldn’t do much to defend just 107 against Chennai Super Kings and were on the receiving end in another high-scoring game against Delhi Capitals but did take three of the four wickets. Overall they have conceded 222 runs from 21 overs.
Sams’ tough start
Daniel Sams has had a rough start to his time in India. Shortly after arriving he tested positive for Covid-19 on April 7 and had to go into isolation. “A bit lonely,” was how his agent summed things up to the Age. On Saturday it was confirmed that he had now tested negative and passed the various protocols to enter the RCB bubble, although having been confined to a room for so long and not being able to train for nearly two weeks it remains to seen when he will be up to match fitness should RCB want to consider him.
Where was Smith’s footwork better?
The less said about Steven Smith‘s dancing probably the better, but for most of the first week that was about as active as he had been. As suspected he did not find a spot in the Capital’s starting XI when the tournament began and it was something of a surprise when he was brought in to replace Tom Curran to face Punjab Kings on Sunday. It ended up being a sedate start as he nudged his way to 9 off 12 balls before an ugly back at fellow Australian Meredith found third man.
Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo
Recent Match Report – Durham vs Worcs Group 1 2021
First hundred in five years for Burnham on day of dominance at Chester-le-Street
Worcestershire 213 (Fell 44, Leach 42*, Rushworth 5-56) and 60 for 0 need another 363 runs to beat Durham 246 (Lees 99, Tongue 5-39) and 389 for 5 dec (Young 103, Burnham 102*)
Durham require 10 wickets on the final day of their LV= Insurance County Championship match against Worcestershire after centuries from Will Young and Jack Burnham handed the visitors a daunting fourth-innings chase.
Young provided the foundation with his second century of the season in his final game for the home side. Burnham upped the ante late in the afternoon and notched his first hundred since May 2016. Ned Eckersley also provided a brisk knock of 86 from 57 balls, including six sixes.
Worcestershire’s openers faced a tough final hour, but Daryl Mitchell and Jake Libby remained unbeaten at the close after putting on a stand of 60, although their side require another 363 runs to pull off an unlikely victory at Emirates Riverside.
Durham added only three runs to their overnight total before Joe Leach found Scott Borthwick’s outside edge. Young held firm and worked his way his past fifty, reaching the milestone from 128 balls. He and David Bedingham put on a stand of 69 for the third wicket, but the latter played a loose drive before lunch to a Josh Tongue delivery and was caught behind.
Young picked his moments to grind down the Worcestershire attack, while Burnham provided ample support, allowing Durham to post their third fifty partnership in succession. The New Zealander attempted to bring up his century by pulling Ed Barnard over the rope, only to be put down by Charlie Morris on the square leg boundary.
Young made the most of his opportunity and reached his second century of the season with a crisp on-drive down the ground that travelled to the fence. He failed to add to his score after passing three figures, leaving an inswinger from Tongue that struck his back pad. Durham pressed on through Burnham, who produced a great array of strokes around the wicket. The right-hander put the Worcestershire bowlers to the sword after easing past fifty.
Eckersley proved more than a useful foil at the other end, allowing the home side to accelerate courtesy of a century stand. He smashed a six to reach his half-century before a glut of further sixes followed, sending four over the rope in one Brett D’Oliveira over.
Eckersley was caught on the fence after his onslaught before Burnham, who endured a struggle in the nineties, finally reached his ton, ending a five-year drought. The milestone prompted Borthwick to declare with a lead of 422. However, Durham were denied a breakthrough in the final hour as Mitchell and Libby were solid, leaving the visitors unscathed at the close.
England’s challenge in 2021 is to peak for Australia ‘pinnacle’, says Joe Root
Joe Root says that the challenge of taking on New Zealand, the world’s No.1-ranked Test team, followed by five home Tests against India and an away Ashes campaign, makes 2021 the sort of year that “you play the game for”.
However, Root also admitted that England’s new-look selection panel – now led by the head coach Chris Silverwood – faces a tricky balancing act to ensure the entire squad is fit and firing ahead of the Australia tour, which he conceded was the year’s “pinnacle”.
The squad for England’s first Test of the summer, against New Zealand at Lord’s, is expected to be announced on Tuesday, and may provide an opportunity for some of England’s uncapped squad members – notably Gloucestershire’s James Bracey and Sussex’s Ollie Robinson – to test their mettle on the big stage after long periods on the sidelines during the team’s recent bio-secure campaigns.
However, Root admitted the importance of striking the right balance between opportunities for fringe candidates and sufficient game-time for the first-choice players, especially given the continued uncertainty about how long the Covid-safe environments will have to be kept in place.
“It’s very difficult at the minute, the circumstances make it very tricky,” Root told Sky Sports during Yorkshire’s ongoing County Championship clash with Glamorgan in Cardiff. “You’ve got to factor in so many different things and the welfare of the players is obviously paramount.
“But this is what you play for, years like this one. You want to pit yourself against the best, you want to be successful against the best, and this is the opportunity to do it.”
The New Zealand series will be an early test of the ECB’s new selection arrangements. Ed Smith’s removal as national selector last month means that Silverwood holds an unprecedented influence within the England camp, but Root believes his new role will add clarity to the process, given the bond that already exists between captain and coach.
“More than anything, it just means that that relationship between the two of us has to be as strong as ever,” he said. “We get on very well and we’ve got a good understanding of each other. We know what we want, and so hopefully, that process becomes a little bit easier.
“It’s always a tricky balance,” he said of the prospect of blooding some new faces against New Zealand. “What you’re trying to do is create that environment where you’ve got a strong squad of players that have been together for a good period of time, but no-one going in cold.
“You can’t plan everything perfectly, especially at the minute with Covid. There might be natural opportunities where things arise, there might not be, but the most important thing is that we remain very open-minded about how we want to move going forward.
“We’ve got some really important cricket coming up. And we’ve got to prioritise that. So when we sit down, we’ll factor in everything as best we can, and make sure that we’ve got a real clear idea of how we want to go, how we want the year to look, and how we’re going to peak for that tour of Australia.”
England overtook Australia as the No.3-ranked Test team this week, behind New Zealand and India, who face off in next month’s World Test Championship final at the Ageas Bowl, and after impressing for the first half of their recent tour of Sri Lanka and India, Root is confident their Test plans are on track.
“We’ve made good strides over the last couple of years as a Test team,” he said. “It’s not been plain sailing, we’ve not had it all our own way, but we still improved.
“I truly believe we are making good strides in the right direction, and now we’ve got an opportunity to keep improving, keep getting better and peak for Australia, which is the pinnacle for us.”
SInce returning from India, Root has been a fixture in Yorkshire’s County Championship line-up. Although he’s made just the one hundred in four completed fixtures, against Kent at Canterbury last month, he is comfortable with where his game is at, not least after surviving a torrid examination from Glamorgan’s seamers in Cardiff, to reach 34 not out overnight in the ongoing fixture.
“I felt pretty good yesterday,” he said. “I was moving quite nicely. I’ve been working on trying to play the ball a little bit later and felt I was lining it up quite straight.
“Rhythm has been a big part of my batting for a few years now,” he added. “More than anything that’s what you’re trying to find when you practice, to make sure that I feel in control of all the shots I want to play, and playing the ball nice and close to me. It’s a nice place to be, but it doesn’t guarantee you anything when you start again this morning.”
On a personal note, Root was privy to a moment of family pride on Friday, when his brother Billy was presented with his county cap by Glamorgan before the start of play.
“It was a brilliant moment,” he said. “It’s nice to be able to walk past that special moment for him and for the club. I’m really proud of what he’s achieved here at Glamorgan and hopefully he can continue moving forward.”
Billy Root enjoyed a moment of one-upmanship at Headingley in their last encounter, when he brought up his hundred off his brother’s bowling. But asked if there was any sledging between the brothers, Root senior replied: “He tries, but he’s not brave enough to properly go hard at me. Let’s see what today brings.”
Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. @miller_cricket
Former India Women’s coach WV Raman alleges ‘smear campaign’ against him in email to Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid
He says it will be “extremely disconcerting” if his candidature was rejected due to reasons other than “my incompetency as a coach”
India Women’s outgoing head coach WV Raman has alleged that a “smear campaign” against him has gained unwarranted traction and he has urged the BCCI president Sourav Ganguly to stop it. In an email that Raman also sent to the National Cricket Academy head Rahul Dravid, he wrote it will be “extremely disconcerting” if his candidature was rejected due to reasons other than “my incompetency as a coach”.
Raman was not retained as the head coach of the senior women’s team by the Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC) which picked Ramesh Powar for the job.
“I presume you might have been told different views about my style of functioning and work ethic,” Raman wrote. “Whether those views conveyed to the officials of the BCCI had any impact on my candidature is of no consequence now.
“What is important is that the smear campaign seems to have gained some unwarranted traction with some BCCI officials which needs to be halted permanently. I am prepared to give an explanation should you or any of the office bearers require it.”
He said he was not used to “moaning and whining”, but was bringing up the issues in case the BCCI president wishes to do a course correction.
“If I were to be rejected due to my incompetency as a coach, there is no argument on a judgment call at all,” he wrote. “But what will be extremely disconcerting is if my candidature was rejected due to any other reasons. Especially if it was due to allegations from people who were more focused on achieving their personal objectives at the expense of the overall hygiene and welfare of the Indian women’s team and the pride of the country.”
While Raman’s letter did not name anyone, it is understood that he was writing about the star culture that prevails in the team, which he said is probably doing more harm than good.
“If some people in the system have been highly accommodative to the extent of being seemingly obsequious to an accomplished performer for years on end – and if that performer feels constrained to adhere to the culture – then I would leave it to you to decide if the coach was asking for too much.
“In a coaching career spanning 20 years, I have always created a culture in which the team always comes first and insisted on no individual overriding either the game or the team.”
He said “paying heed to only one individual’s views while disregarding everyone else’s over a long period of time has resulted in gaping holes in the process and the system”.
“The time has come for you two accomplished former legends to salvage women’s cricket, falling which things could gather momentum in the wrong direction. I have some suggestions that might help in the improvement of women’s cricket. I will be delighted to share those if you are interested.”
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Recent Match Report – Durham vs Worcs Group 1 2021
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